Ancient Viking Coin Unearthed in Hungary

History

| LAST UPDATE 06/21/2022

By Stanley Wickens
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picture alliance / Contributor via Getty Images

Every now and then, a new discovery reminds us just how far back the history of human beings on the planet goes. Look no further than recently, when a metal detectorist in Hungary unearthed an ancient artifact that dates back about a millennium.

The metal detectorist found a tiny silver coin, featuring the face of a famous Viking king, which was lost nearly 1,000 years ago. Although the coin was Scandinavian, it somehow found its way all the way to Hungary. According to researchers, it's possible it got there along with the traveling court of a medieval Hungarian king. The ancient coin, called a "penning," wasn't one of the more expensive coins at the time - despite being made of silver. In fact, today's equivalent would be a $20-dollar bill. "This penning was equivalent to the denar used in Hungary at the time," Máté Varga, an archaeologist at the Rippl-Rónai Museum in the southern Hungarian city of Kaposvár and a doctoral student at Hungary's University of Szeged, told Live Science. "It was not worth much — perhaps enough to feed a family for a day."

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Over the years, archaeologists and historians have found significant evidence of relations between Hungary and Scandinavia, such as Scandinavian artifacts found in Hungary and Hungarian artifacts found in Scandinavia. Although the coin recently found in Hungary is in rather poor condition, researchers were able to identify it as the "penning" that was designed between 1046 and 1066 for King Harald Sigurdsson III - also known as Harald Hardrada. On the coin's front is the name of the king "HARALD REX NO" - which means "Harald, king of Norway" - as well as a "triquetra," a three-sided symbol representing Christianity's Holy Trinity. On the other side of the coin is a Christian cross etched in double lines and the name of the master of the mint at Nidarnes, Norway. 

According to Britannica, Harald Hardrada was the son of a Norwegian chief and half-brother of the Norwegian king Olaf II. He was born toward the end of the Viking Age and was considered to be the last of the Viking warrior-kings. The discovery of the coin featuring the famous royal figure over a thousand miles away from its birthplace has fascinated researchers studying the region's history. They're now planning to conduct further metal detection in the area, hoping to make more insightful discoveries. Be sure to stay tuned while we find out more!

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